We built our Church in the 1990s. In February 1996, we installed gilded cupolas, which were graced with crosses in October of the same year. Several years ago we realised that the mild steel crosses began to rust and that the upper part of the cupola surfaces were been degraded by parrots, other birds and the weather. Gold leaf is extremely thin and very soft.
In August 2015, I met a visitor from the Urals, Slava Volk-Levonovich, who has relatives in our community. I asked Slava to help me find a firm in Russia that was good at lining cupolas with the new, very durable material that came to our attention in the early 2000s (Titanium nitride). Slava was well placed for that purpose because he runs a business in producing metal objects of art. Our Parish Council appointed member Yuriy Medvedev as my helper and consultant in further researching the field.
Over a year ago, we began a long process of discussing our proposed project with the firm “Morion” in the Urals, using Slava as our contact person. Further, we hired a local migration agent, Alla Giller, to prepare a submission for five short-term business visas. The preparation for their coming to Melbourne included further exchanges of technical information, contractual negotiations, facilitating the import of 1,500 kilos of Titanium nitride covered stainless steel sheets and a small bell tower cupola built at the “Morion” workshops; organising cranes, accommodation for the five men, tools, scaffolding and a host of other large and small objects, including the gilding of new stainless crosses by Branko Kuzmanovic, artist.
It became obvious also that at least the cupola drums needed to be repaired (bird damage) and painted. The boom lift (45 m) used for that purpose would be useful in conjunction with the lowering and raising of crosses and cupolas by a 60 m, 80-ton crane. I asked our parishioner, painter Andrew Stabinskas, to organise the cranes, plastering and painting.
An important part of access to cupola bolts, as well as work on the ground was the massive amount of scaffolding, offered gratis, as on other occasions, by Kosta Diakoumakos, another parishioner.
Other auxiliary work was done by our parishioners: Michael Stirkul (Warden), Stepan Kichakov, Zoran Stojanovski and Alexey Karipoff. These men builtweather covers to protect the Church interior from the weather during the time that the cupolas were been renovated on the ground.
The men arrived on 26 February (Forgiveness Sunday) and began their work the next day – the first day of Lent. On Tuesday 28 February, we lifted off the first two cupolas – at the Eastern (creek) end of the Church. Over the next seven days, the visiting workers lined them with tailored sheets of the material from Russia. In fact, what they created were tight patchwork “dresses” for our cupolas, retaining the original vertical facet lines. On Wednesday 8 March, we lifted and bolted these first cupolas into their positions. The same men worked as riggers. The front two cupolas were now unbolted for identical work. Because the men were now familiar with the characteristics of our cupolas they could work quicker and it took them about five days to clad these two. On Tuesday 14 March, they were hoisted into position and the last, big central cupola removed for work on the ground.
On Sunday 19 March (Holy Cross Sunday in Lent) after the liturgy, we took the opportunity to bless the large central Church cross.
At the time of writing of these remarks we were poised to install the large cupola and cross (on Wednesday 29 March), thus completing the main part of our renovation. We will have some residual work to do: plastering of the central cupola access door, touching up of the icon of the Pantocrator, removing the scaffolding and finishing the paintwork on the exterior of the Church in the remaining two weeks before Easter.
How much is all this going to cost? The materials, labour, freight, visas, airfares, accommodation (motel), tools, local materials, cranes (two) is costing over $130,000. By the time, we put together a full picture with costs involved in rendering and painting we are not far from the 150K mark.
Come and see how the Church looks. Develop a sense of this wonderful building as your home. A home is maintained only through the combined efforts of the family. Think about contributing to this maintenance.
Fr Nicholas Karipoff,